Last time we met: van Nistelrooy penalty is almost the final straw for relegation-threatened Ipswich Town

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A big decision proved the difference last time Ipswich Town and Manchester United met, as Ruud van Nistelrooy’s controversial penalty all-but condemned the Tractor Boys to relegation.

Despite a mid-season revival which at one stage saw the Blues threaten the top half of the table, George Burley’s side had fallen back into serious relegation trouble by the time they welcomed United on April 27, 2002.

Despite Darren Bent’s bundled effort securing three points just days earlier against Middlesbrough, the Tractor Boys needed a result against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to ensure they had a genuine chance of staying up, going into the final day.

However, that chance disappeared as Dutchman van Nistelrooy hit the deck in front of the North Stand just before half-time, under slight pressure from Titus Bramble and John McGreal, before picking himself up to convert from the spot amid a cacophony of boos.

That was enough to win the game for the Red Devils, with Town’s 5-0 loss at Liverpool on the final day condemning them to a relegation they’ve yet to recover from.


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